Stephen J. May Scholarship free throw fundraiser in memory of well-loved student

‘Everybody Love Everybody’ was teen’s philosophy

by BETH ALTENA

Stephen May was known as a peacemaker and liked to see those around him get along. A favorite saying of his was “Everybody love everybody.” In the spirit of that philosophy, friends of the family are raising money for a self-sustaining humanitarian scholarship to be offered in Stephen’s name. There will be an evening of events Friday, Nov. 26 at Assumption Catholic Church Family Center with live music. a silent auction and activities, but prior to that event, the Stephen J. May #10 Free Throw Shooting Contest will take place at Rockford High School on Sunday, Nov. 7 from 1 to 3:30 p.m.

Stephen J. May

“We are all throwing ourselves into this,” said Linda Crosby, who is one of the organizers. She said both events are efforts to keep Stephen’s memory alive with the scholarship and as a way to honor his life.

Stephen, son of Jamie and Gerilyn May, was a popular student at Rockford and a three-sport athlete, who died of accidental causes this past spring. Crosby said community support for the May family and events to build a scholarship fund are an indication of how well loved Stephen was. She said organizers continue to be amazed at the response they receive in their fundraising efforts. The name of the contest includes #10 because that was Stephen’s number in varsity basketball, varsity track and in his position as a starting player on the varsity football team.

“We had t-shirts made up, thinking the organizers could wear them,” Crosby said.

Almost immediately, people asked if they could buy a shirt of their own. Crosby said they have already ordered more of the shirts several times. The shirts are available at Rockford High School on Friday afternoons and cost just $8, with $5 going straight to the scholarship fund.

The Free Throw Shooting Contest begins with registration from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Rockford High School gymnasium. The entry fee is $5 per person with a limit of three entries per person. Crosby said each entry will allow 10 free-throw shots, so those who enter three times will have 30 shots in which to prove their skill. One hundred percent of all entry fees goes to the scholarship fund.

Following registration, competition begins at 2:30 to 3 p.m. in the eight brackets: ages 10 and under boys and girls, ages 11-14 boys and girls, ages 15-18 girls and boys, and over 18 men and women. The top four in each bracket will make the finals with 10 more throws. The eight winners are chosen by the most shots made, and ties will be determined by shooting until someone misses.

“It will be big,” said Crosby.

At 3:30 the winners will be presented with a trophy. As with the Assumption auction and evening entertainment, the public is warmly welcome to attend, either to watch or participate.

At the fundraiser, scheduled for November 26, the public will have another chance to enjoy the music of Tribune, the Rockford High School student band made up of four of May’s classmates, including the son of one of the organizers, Dixie Newell. This amazing band will play, along with Main Street, another terrific group of musicians and all Rockford High School graduates, many of whom went to school with Gerilyn May and some of the organizers.

The evening will also feature food, a 50/50 raffle, activities, a live auction and a silent auction. Crosby said support for the event has been inspiring, and she attributes the response to how many people loved Stephen and care about the May family. Among donations are Rockford graduate and professional athlete Dathan Ritzenhein’s Beijing Olympic shoes, a week rental for a cottage that sleeps 22 people, a basketball signed by Tom Izzo, a pro football jersey from Joe Staley—autographed by his teammates—and in total nearly 100 items. To donate to the auction, contact Claudette Smiley at crsmiley@comcast.net. All proceeds from this event also will go to the humanitarian scholarship for a Rockford High School senior who exemplifies the Everyone Love Everyone spirit that Stephen exhibited.

“We have people on our committee that know how to work,” said Crosby. “They aren’t just people who go to a meeting and nod their heads. They hit the streets; go to the Corner Bar, go to Right at Home. Our hearts are in this. Most of us have kids that graduated with Stephen. We just worked on AfterGrad together and now we are working on this. We know we can’t replace Stephen; we can preserve his memory as best we can. The Mays have a huge, empty hole in their hearts. Jamie and Gerilyn have touched our lives. We want to do something to show them how much we care, and we don’t know what else to do.”

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